the day before going to the USA we went to the richard long exhibition at tate britain which is well worth a visit. anyway i have added a set of photos from new york to flickr. and in the spirit of richard long the trip went something like...
as part of the week we taught at lancaster seminary the students created a worship experience. it was around a passge from 1 thessalonians 1 - not an easy one! we only had around an hour we spent planning but somehow pulled together a really amazing worship experience. the central idea in the passage is that the apostles imitate christ, the macedonians have imitated the apostles, and now the thessalonians are imitating them. it's like a chain of modeling. but it is effective because in the end if it is real it will be visible in peoples lives. i guess it's like leslie newbigin's idea of the hermeneutic of the congregation, or like christ's simple words - if you love one another people will know you are my disciples. so taking this idea the central ritual involved people coming up and looking in a mirror which had an icon of christ on and of paul, the idea being to see how we might reflect christ. as people walked back to their seat they passed another mirror with the words you are the message written on - simple but very powerful. that line is from the message translation of the passage...
if you came to the workshop jenny and i led at lancaster theological seminary hi! in no particular order here's a bundle of liinks to things we mentioned...
alternativeworship.org is a great intro site to alternative worship. this piece how to make it happen (click through the pages) formed the basis of the session i led on the process of putting together worship. and how to get started is another intro piece, this time on the grace web site. i didn't mention this but the grace site has an archive. click on services or liturgy to find a lot of stuff such as communion by numbers or we hang our lives on your mercy
smallfire.org is a collection of photographs of alt worship services and events. it's a great site to get ideas and it's so much easier to see the services than just have them described.
i mentioned the worship tricks that i have compiled on my blog over the last few years. these are now in their third series. these can be a prayer, an idea, a whole service, a movie loop or whatever. have a browse through series 1 | series 2 | series 3
proost is a small company i help run. we produce creative resources out of the pool of wonderful people and communities doing this kind of stuff. there are a mix of movies, books of homegrown liturgies, and albums. the best deal is to subscribe - this gives you access to all the downloadable content when you like plus new content for a year. if you type in the coupon code PRSUBBG that will give you 10 percent off (any other readers feel free to use the same). i plan to set up a US page where people can buy the pocket liturgy books direct in hard copy through lulu but lulu have just changed the weight of paper so we have to redo all our book covers first (aaaargh!). btw have a look at lulu.com - useful for publishing your own book of ideas an liturgies once you get on a roll after this week's workshop!
sophia is jenny's blog which is packed with good stuff.
emergingchurch.info is a site we set up to collect stories of new expressions of church. fresh expressions is the anglican movement encouraging newness which followed on from the report mission shaped church. all these things are part of a wave of mission in our own context(s) - postmodern or whatever you want to call them. i lead a team for cms encouraging mission in the uk and europe, training and networking leaders.
other things we mentioned... flickr is a photo sharing site. some photos are published with a creative commons license which means you can use them if you credit the photographer. choose creative commons from the explore menu. the beauty of flickr is that there are both amazing images and they are often at a good size. click all sizes above the photo to choose a larger size. there are of course a load of other places to access images though create your own as well!
movies - i haven't checked these sources out but these were published in the youthmultimedia discussion forum the other day. it's a pretty useful group run out of australia - lots of useful answers to geeky questions! anyway the links for free movie loops were (let me know if you find anything good as i am yet to look) - archives.org architectsoftomorrow.com lucidhouse stockfootageforfree nara vjvault Of course none of this beats getting your camera out or getting someone else to - have a look at the flip if you want an easy way to shoot footage.
i also mentioned curation as a model for thinking about leading worship. i said i'd send round the notes we use as a guide at grace. well they are included in this blog post . this was the first of 5 posts - this last one has links to the others if it's of interest.
i'll add photos of the worship service to my flickr pages when i get back and get round to editing them...
jen and i have arrived in the US and are teaching at the summer academy at lancaster seminary. we are doing a week on alternative worship. we kicked off this morning which seemed to go well... each year bruce epperley plans to have a week like this at lancaster with an emerging culture focus. next year i think doug paggitt is booked to come...
so it may be a little quiet on the blog but a few links meantime
i can't remember if i have blogged this before or not (old age?!) but rob ryan tells his story so far of starting out as an ordained pioneer in rochester from nothing which is a wonderful read...
and i liked this story surprise surprise from tom brackett - a cheap sustainable way of planting a church in the episcopal setting - pay an ordained priest for doing the essentials and that's it! nice...
i really enjoyed meeting tom brackett earlier this year - we've become good friends in a short space of time. he works for/with the episcopal church in the USA nudging it in the direction of church planting and redevelopment. he connects with, networks and encourages new edges and leaders. he has a great piece on his blog what might you have done differently? . when he was in the UK he asked people the following question:
the answers come down to two dominant themes -
so playing it back to leaders in the USA tom strongly advocates
she who has ears to hear let her hear...
...what the illusion was!
the great disappointment is an interesting post/reflection on emergent in the US and the comments are definitely worth a read. i added this one...
i was helped once when i heard a talk on john the baptist and disillusionment. the point was if you are disillusioned you better ask what the illusion was. it sounds like some great hopes have been placed on a few people to solve the massive shifts taking place in culture and church life. was that ever going to happen?! it’s a much longer trajectory we are in and i suspect we’re still quite early in the process. i liked the way emergent blew open a conversation in the US and gave permission for questions. to be honest it was a conversation we’d been having in the uk for about 1o years before but it was always about networking, practice at the grassroots, and working out what it meant to follow in the way of christ in your (postmodern or whatever) locale. if you are disappointed fair enough. but get some people together and live some stuff out and connect with some others doing the same thing - that’s it!
re people making money - maybe the US is different but there’s no money in christian books or blogs in the uk trust me. if there is it’s small change. it’s a cheap shot at bloggers. i’ve never made a penny - it’s about the love!
i blogged a while back saying that this whole thing has only just begun . that may not be a popular view right now but i am in this mission in culture thing for the rest of my life. i see plenty of places that have a long way to go. ok so emergent may have made some wrong moves but haven’t we all? i hope that what you are doing proves hopeful and wish emergent the best as they seek to reconfigure for what’s next…
i was contacted by geez magazine a while back to ask permission to use a photo. i was delighted to be asked having heard good things about the magazine (and pleased that that is the third magazine i have had a photo in this year). well yesterday a copy dropped on the doormat. hailing from canada, it looks great, is intelligent, funny and poignant. a couple of the people working on it have done time with adbusters which didn't surprise me - it has a similar feel. on the 'feel' of the magazine the eds replied in the letters page to someone who didn't like the name by saying that they wanted a name that suggests they are in the realm of religion but not in a typical way, that the exploration of topics is more like saturday evening over beers than sunday morning with its strictures. each issue has a theme. the current one is inspired by gandhi's notion of experiments in truth (which i was inspired by in mark scandrette's book a couple of years back) - put legs on an idea try something out such as downward mobility or sit in public, see what happens. don't just sit there theorising. the magazine is like greenbelt - i.e. it's a space in church life where you actualy feel good about being a christian rather than embarrassed if you know what i mean. the magazine has been running a daringly awkward sermon contest - 300 words only. the nest issue will have a bundle of winners.
on the subject of magazines conspire also looks like an interesting new zine on the block birthed out of the simple way community - a different approach to how the economics and distribution works, with communities subscribing to be able to distribute it free having signed up and agreed to donate towards it as a community.
we are doing our own experiment in truth again this week - off to run dekhomai at the london mind body spirit festival chatting with, listening to, praying with, massaging feet of, making prayer bracelets with, doing jesus deck readings for visitors to our stand. the experiment? take christian spirituality out of the church box and into the spiritual marketplace and join in with what god is already doing... if you pray, do pray for us. we hope the 'energy is strong' in our booth :-)
i absolutely love this solving of a problem that paul soupiset has posted on his blog. in a worship service at the netzer co-op in austin where bri and tim are (hi if you're reading) the challenge was how to run a presentation on a laptop from a distance when you've forgotten your remote... i'll say no more. go and see for yourself. it's definitely a worship trick of sorts though probably not one that will be repeated much elsewhere but i am adding it to the official list as it's so brilliant - no 58 is series 3. we've had a few moments like this over the years.
there's nothing like pressure to fuel creative thinking using whatever is at hand to solve a problem - tinkering i guess. imposing constraints or limits can actually help the creative process - there's less other stuff to worry about. so if you want to be creative, intentionally throw spanners in the works like this and see what happens...
there's a white paper on barak obama's use of social media as part of his campaign. you can download the pdf here - the social pulpit [ht bob]. the paper is several pages and if you are like me you may have good intentions to read it but it's too long to be bothered to read now... so let me try and a) save you the hassle or b) persuade you it's worth it.
i have been banging on about the new environment and how different it is. and in relation to technology that one of the challenges to get is that the shifts taking place are not just about technology - they are changing a whole lot more. see my 4 interactions with here comes everybody 1 2 3 4 , review of tribes and starfish and spider or leadership reflections for example. my point is that barak seems to get this - he's actually native to the new environment - so we may be witnessing a seismic shift in political organisation. as the article puts it - away from the president's bully pulpit to a social pulpit where others take up and deliver (and create and reform?) the message and actively participate in their small worlds/networks/localities. it's the second half of the paper that particularly struck me which lists lessons from the campaign as follows:
i won't comment on them all here but just pick a couple...
going where the people are - recognises that while 60% of people in the US belong to an online social network most belong to one only. so don't expect them to come to a social network you create - you have to flow in theirs. this is almost exactly the sentiment behind my blog redesign and explanation in the top right hand box of the blog and yes it's the reason i joined facebook. what's weird is that so many organisations anbd charities are investing in their own social networks and sites. i understand it and obama clearly had a very effective hub of his own but largely to give people the tools to flow and communicate in their own online presences. obama identified some key networks amongst black, hispanic and asian communities and not just the facebooks. so maybe there is some intentional border crossing and getting out of comfort zones needed to enter other peoples worlds?
providing source materials for user generated content - what interested me about this section is the issue of trust. over 400 000 videos and 400 000 blog posts were created by people in their networks. the campaign could never have done that on its own but crucially it was better that it didn’t. why? because people trust someone like themselves more than a politician or religious leader or CEO or whatever other official. i.e. let someone in a local community be the voice in that community. it's such a simple point but how many organisations want or have their experts doing the talking?!
some people are saying that this use of social media is why obama is now president. i have no idea if that is overblown. but it is brilliant and there is so much to reflect on particularly for people working in advocacy or charity sector with a message, a big idea, a meme, a heresy.
and needless to say going where people are and giving tools to indigenous leaders - sounds like the instincts we could do with around mission and the church?! and yet what do we experience so much of the time in church programmes - experts, theologians, messages on video from the leaders (why do alpha do that?! - update:i have been corrected on this in the comments and they no longer do so apologies!) and very little trust of the local to deliver effectively!
it's been a very exciting week - i have actually looked forward to getting the newspaper and have been reading the sports section after the news!
tom brackett is reflecting on church planting in the episcopal church and has blogged a few pieces. it's good that the episcopal church has this appointment and i liked his description of what emergent might be about or the question we should be asking...
i have connected over the years with lots of people in mainline contexts in the US so hope this nudges things in good directions.
i landed back in the uk this morning. i actually got an electricity plug on the plane which was heaven as i had an article to write. after that i watched speed racer which is truly a colourful bubblegum bright delight by the wachowski brothers - i thought it was a kind of parable too that might be easily applied to spirituality and the christian industries but that's a story for another day...
talking of the christian industries, i forgot to mention that bob carlton has written a book with ariele gentiles for ys - barack obama:an american story which is exciting. although not everyone seems to think it's exciting judging by some of the comments on marko's blog post about it. if you want a window into the polarised nature of christianity in america go and read some of the comments - at this moment up to 111!
this bike helmet amused me in lance armstrong's store mellow johnny's in austin (the name inspired by maillot jaune) - nutcase is the brand btw. austin is a very cool city. it's been great to get a chance to visit. it reminds me of melbourne with it's independent coffee houses, spread outness, and arty crowd. one of the coffee houses i visited was spiderhouse - i remember steve enthusing about it a few years back. weirdly shannon was in austin while i was here and had threatened to take me for coffee in austin if i ever showed up so that was neat, though i had to have a chimay tripel as they had that on tap!
bob and lisa carlton have been great hosts. i shared in the worship services at journey on sunday. their strapline is imperfect faith community. it was wonderful to visit such a relaxed, honest, open group where you felt there was a total acceptance of you no matter what. it's very rare for me to feel so at home in a church and to feel like i could happily belong there - no BS as someone put it. we had a blah... type event with people from a few of the more emerging/postmodern churches round austin of which there seem to be quite a few out of a range of denominations/movements - lutheran, episcopalian, independent, spin off from mega, house church etc. it just re-confirms that the cultural changes are causing the church to rethink everywhere. i joined in a party with a group of artists, and have met several people for coffee or in the pub and of course have been finally persuaded to join facebook. that actually took place at the spiderhouse and tim snyder caught the moment on his phone so i'll try and get the pic off him.
due to storms in houston my plane got delayed so i have ended up in austin for another night. headed back to london tonight.
i really haven't taken a lot of photos but there is a set of around 30 here - oklahoma and austin
many years ago i was working for a week at a christian festival, spring harvest. it was actually the last time i agreed to go (though i am going back for a week this year). it proved to be a difficult week. i had been invited to do something creative or different but when i got there the expectation clearly wasn't that. but that week someone who i didn't really know very well asked to meet me for coffee to chat. they knew nothing of the experience i was having. but one of the things they said has stuck with me since -
you don't fit and that's your gift
it reminds me of a marshall macluhan quote - the role of the artist is to create an anti-environment as a means of perception and adjustment. it was so surprising from this particular person and was a huge relief at the time. there are lots of artists, prophets, creatives, entrepreneurs, and change agents for whom this is true and it is why they are able to do what they do. cultures need people that don't fit - it's how things get moved on when they get stuck. i have been reminded of it on this trip to the US as i have met a number of people for whom that statement could be said both in okc and austin. and they are amazing gifted wonderful people. and guess what - the institutional church really doesn't get it or them too well!
i have blogged on several occasions about the church of england creating space for recognising that pioneers have a different gift/call/set of skills and acknowledging that they need these kinds of people to create new things often around or off the edges of the existing map. there is a lot of work to be done with regards to training and a number of other issues. but at least the recognition is there. again i'm left with the thought that other denominations could learn from this. if somebody is asking a lot of questions, doesn't fit, are creative - don't push them away. give them the space to create something different and new and resist the temptation to co-opt it.
the united methodist church conference in oklahoma went well. people particularly enjoyed experiencing the worship. alternative worship, because it draws on tradition and uses liturgy plays out well in mainline contexts or so it seems. i hope the church there can reflect on what to do with its creative 'don't fit' people and resists putting them in regular churches which will frustrate them and those churches probably.
i was only there for a few days so any photos were snatched on the go, but on the last day i did get to visit the bomb memorial which is stunning. i have added some photos to a set on flickr.
today when i opened my hotel room door USA today was on the mat with a picture of obama and the headline a dream fulfilled. it's still sinking in that obama has actually been elected...
yesterday when i arrved in oklahoma the sun was going down and storms were brewing which made for a dramtic sky.
jack who is hosting me here took me downtown and into a store for outdoor stuff - fishing, camping, hunting. and it was truly a cross cultural experience. bullets are along the shelves just like bread might be at the supermarket along with weapons galore!
brian walsh e-mailed me yesterday with a link reflecting on the possibility of a post imperial presidency. you may remember brian and sylvia's targums on colossians that i made a worship trick (apologies for the legibility - i must sort that first series out some time!). well they are now working on a commentary on romans and have posted a targum on romans 1 . be warned it is long and full on! in fact i am a bit nervous about posting it while i am in america... i feel like i could get deported and if it is is the first post people read who are at the conference later today what will they think?! but i am going to make it a worship trick anyway - number 44 series 3. i could never write the targum as it is - the challenge is to read and improvise in this way in my own context. it actually reminded me of a couple of asbojesus cartoons - 562 and 563.
[i still want to get a full debate between pete ward and brian walsh or at least the different ways that they come at culture which reared its head as a possibility in the summer...]
tony is to step down as national co-ordinator. it will be a low cost outfit. the focus is to be and continue on social networking within the four values/commitments, along with a prophetic voice/role.